A 2012 study examined the oral health of students during and after their exams. It showed that those who were under academic stress “had a higher level of tooth decay than those students with low stress levels”. It seems that exams and tooth decay are linked.
The reason? Well, there were several, and it all had to do with the way students often behave during the exam period.
Study Behaviours That Put Teeth At Risk
During revision times, some students resort to grazing at their desks instead of taking full meals. Many students choose to consume sweet snacks to boost their energy levels. Students may also consume more sugary drinks during this period, particularly cola with caffeine, or coffee with sugar. This high-frequency consumption of sugary snacks and beverages will cause the amount of dental plaque on the teeth to increase, and thus the teeth are much more at risk of developing cavities.
Students commonly study late into the night, and may fall into bed exhausted without first brushing their teeth. This combination of snacking on sugary foods and poor oral hygiene is a deadly one for teeth, and can definitely lead to more tooth decay as the study demonstrated.
Recommendations For Students During Exam Time
The solutions? If you are studying over an extended period of time you should:
- Try to snack on healthy foods like nuts or cheese, and to drink water or unsweetened beverages. Beware of diet versions of soft drinks as these are highly acidic, and can cause erosion or decay. Read this post about tooth-friendly lunchbox ideas, which is just as applicable for older students as it is for small children.
- Chew sugar-free gum to help wash away the sugars and neutralise the acidity after sugary snacks and drinks
- Absolutely brush your teeth at night- put your toothbrush on your pillow as a reminder, or even keep one at your desk so that you can start brushing as you make your way to bed